Fake News existed well before the term was popularized. With the advent of digital technologies it has evolved to dominate online spaces through social amplification and virality. Now there’s a lot of money to be made in the fake news industry, even before legitimate and illegitimate political advertisements join the mix. In other words, fake news will continue to surround us for the foreseeable future, so how do we address misinformation and the onslaught of targeted fake news in our communities and in our classrooms?
Our goal for the next several weeks is to tackle questions like this as we study news, technology, and its impacts on society.
Before we take the dive, I wanted to pause a moment to give a disclaimer. In our time together, we’ll view things that are upsetting and emotionally taxing. There’s no way around it— propaganda and weaponized technologies are not fun topics, but they are very real challenges we face. So, I ask that you constantly reflect on your emotional and mental state as you engage with this content. Both in the name of your health and because fact-checking and combatting misinformation require being aware of our biases and state of mind. Not to mention there may be polarizing topics and issues where we’ll disagree and need to remain conscientious that we are all human.
To kickoff our session, we’ll start with some general discussion questions to crowdsource definitions and getter a better sense of everyone’s backgrounds and current understanding of fake news.
- What is Fake News?
- Where is it being used?
- Why is it being used?
These introductory questions seek to lay the groundwork for uncovering how fake news is financially, politically, and maliciously motivated. They will lead us into heavier questions, such as:
- How do we personally deal with fake news?
- What are common tools we can use to check information accuracy?
- How do we address our own biases as we intake information?
- How do we engage others who are presenting misinformation?
Quick Fact-Checking (Part 1)
Activity: To familiarize ourselves with popular fact-checking resources, we’ll play Two Truths & A Lie using fake and real news. I’ll provide a list to various fact-checking resources, feel free to explore a few (especially ones you’re unfamiliar with) to compare their interfaces and viability.
SOME REPUTABLE FACT-CHECKING ORGANIZATIONS
The following organizations are generally regarded as reputable fact-checking organizations focused on U.S. national news:
- Washington Post Fact Checker
- Truth be Told
- NPR Fact-Check
- Lie Detector (Univision, Spanish language)
- Hoax Slayer
Excerpt from Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers
Next week, we’ll dive more heavily into fact-checking, because just knowing how to use popular tools is not enough. In fact, there are specific strategies we’ll learn to become proficient fact-checkers. Luckily, these are accessible skills for us and our students.
Based on your interests, continue to explore the readings, videos, activities, and curriculum listed below. Finally, you’re invited to reflect on all of these resources and this week’s topic using the form located at the bottom of this page.
- Reading: Fake News, adtech, and the spread of misinformation by Kris Shaffer
- Activity: Mining Twitter data with R, TidyText, and TAGS from Kris Shaffer
- Reading: Adtech and Misinformation: the Middlemen Who Sell to All Sides by Bill Fitzgerald
- Reading: Media Literacy When the Platforms Are Complicit by Bill Fitzgerald
- Reading: AdTech, the New York Times, and Normalizing Fascism by Bill Fitzgerald
- Reading: Reality and Truth in our Political Discourse by Cindy Simon Rosenthal
- Reading: Real News, Fake News: For Lawmakers, No News is Good News by Mary Layton Atkinson
- Reading: Fake News: A Perfect Storm by Patrick C. Meirick
For the Classroom
- Reading: Growth in Presenting: reflections on “combating fake news” by Autumm Caines
- Curriculum: Fake News/Media Literacy Overview and Digital Comic Lesson Plan by Kevin Hodgson
- Curriculum: News Literacy Course from The Center for News Literacy
- Video: How to seek truth in the era of fake news featuring Christiane Amanpour